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Understanding women's hormones

At some point during our lives most of us will suffer hormonal imbalance. This can be due to stress, poor diet, poor sleep, lack of exercise or many different reasons.

Understanding what your hormones do, may help you understand why your symptoms.




So what are hormones ?


Hormones are chemical messengers produced by glands in the endocrine system. They then travel to target tissues and organs where they bind to a cell receptor, causing an action. Hormones regulate many bodily functions including growth and development, metabolism, mood and reproduction.

Hormonal secretion is finely tuned through complex feedback systems, between the brain endocrine glands and organ function such as the liver. In fact hormones don't act in standalone fashion they interact with each other controlled by messages sent back by the body to the brain. This is why when hormones are out of balance or when the body isn't functioning as it should, things go awry and it can take time to get you feeling like yourself again.


Oestrogen


Oestrogen is an umbrella term, as there are actually three main types of oestrogens:


Oestrodial is the most potent type of oestrogen and is synthesized mainly by the ovaries. In men and postmenopausal women tiny amounts are made by fat cells.

Oestrone is weaker and is the more common type of oestrogen found in menopausal women. It is produced manufactured by the adrenal glands

oestriol is made by the placenta and is the main type of oestrogen during pregnancy


What does oestrogen do?


Practically every cell throughout the body possesses oestrogen receptors, indicating that oestrogen can trigger responses in virtually all cells. Here are some functions where oestrogen plays a role


Reproductive health:    Oestrogen regulates the menstrual cycle, ovulation, and pregnancy. It supports the development of female reproductive organs and maintains their function.

Bone health: Oestrogen maintains bone density and strength by regulating the breakdown and formation of bone. reducing the risk of osteoporosis.

Cardiovascular health: Oestrogen has protective effects on the cardiovascular system, including maintaining blood vessel elasticity and regulating blood pressure. It also acts as an antioxidant protecting the blood vessels from damage which could lead to atherosclerosis.

Brain health: Oestrogen influences cognitive function, mood, and memory. It plays a role in protecting against cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases.

Skin health Oestrogen gives skin it youthful glow, by contributing to skin hydration, elasticity, and thickness, helping to maintain a youthful appearance. It also plays a role in collagen formation which gives skin its firm look. Collagen is also integral part of bone and joints.

Cholesterol levels: Oestrogen helps to regulate cholesterol levels in the blood, increasing the good HDL and Lowering LDL

Urogenital health: Oestrogen supports the health of the vaginal lining, reducing the risk of vaginal dryness and urinary tract infections.

Metabolism: Oestrogen can influence metabolism and body fat distribution, potentially affecting weight management. it does this by depositing fat into girly bits such as breast and buttocks.


Progesterone


Progesterone is produced by the ovaries and and is similar to oestrogen in that there are different types and the receptors to it are found all over the body.

It is a steroid hormone primarily produced by the ovaries in females, although smaller amounts are also synthesized in the adrenal glands. Just like oestrogen it has affects many parts of our health and wellbeing:


Menstrual cycle and pregnancy During your menstrual cycle, progesterone increases after ovulation, where it thickens and boosts blood flow to the uterine lining, getting it ready for a fertilized egg. If conception happens, progesterone sticks around to support the baby's early growth, where it acts like the bodyguard for your uterine lining, making sure it doesn't

shed. If conception doesn't occur then progesterone drops and you get your monthly bleed

Bone health Together with estrogen, it helps keep your bones sturdy. So, when progesterone levels dip, especially during menopause, it can lead to bone loss and even osteoporosis.

competes with androgens to keep them low. Elevated androgens are associated with male pattern hair growth and PCOS

Brain Health Progesterone has a calming effect on the brain. Low levels can be associated with anxiety, poor sleep and not coping well with stress. Some studies have shown it to aid memory, cognition and verbal memory. If you going through menopause and find you lose your thought process mid sentence this could be why. Fluctuations during the menstrual cycle have been associated with PMS


Androgens


These are the hormones responsible for masculinity. When androgens are unopposed they can lead to PCOS and problems with reproductive function. Women's androgen levels are between 5 & 10% of men's. Androgens are made in the ovaries and adrenals via precursor hormones such as DHEA.


  • Androgens increase the sebum in our skin keeping it moist

  • They increase body hair

  • Increase hair loss from the head

  • They increase memory and attention

  • Increase libido

  • Increase energy

  • Build lean muscle mass

  • Increase bone density




As we age, hormone levels typically decrease, and during perimenopause, fluctuations in androgen and estrogen levels can occur, while progesterone gradually declines. These hormonal imbalances can contribute to many perimenopausal symptoms. The situation can worsen with stress or suboptimal liver and gut health, potentially leading to long-term health consequences. Hence, I often characterize perimenopause as a health assessment period. Eventually, all hormone levels will decline, emphasizing the importance of preparing the body for future well-being. Addressing the root causes of hormonal imbalances often provides natural relief from symptoms.

 

If you feel this that you are suffering symptoms from an imbalance of hormones the book in with me












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